Another weekend series, another tough matchup for the Stanford baseball squad (10-11, 3-3 Pac-12) as it hits the road for the first time since a March 4 showdown with Cal.
The mighty No. 6 Oregon State Beavers (22-6, 6-2 Pac-12) await in Corvallis, Ore., but the Cardinal bring with them a newfound confidence after earning their first series win over a ranked opponent last week against No. 11 Oregon.
A lot of attention has been given to Stanford’s youth movement on the mound this season, but it was a pair of first-year bats that helped the Card break through against the Ducks. Freshman second baseman Tommy Edman provided the walk-off sacrifice fly to lift Stanford to a 2-1 victory in extra innings in the second game of the series. Meanwhile, freshman designated hitter Alex Dunlap extended his hitting streak to eight games, adding to his team-leading .360 batting average.
The Cardinal will almost certainly need more timely hitting out of their freshmen, along with steady play from veterans Alex Blandino, Danny Diekroeger, Brett Michael Doran and Austin Slater, who are all batting over .300. On the season, Stanford is 8-0 when scoring over three runs, but holds a meager 2-11 record when failing to meet that mark.
Consistent offensive production will be a major key for the Cardinal as they look to support their starting pitching, which has continued to shine in recent weeks. The freshman trio of Brett Hanewich, Cal Quantrill and Chris Viall will start the three games — in that order — against the Beavers.
Hanewich (1-1), whose 2.05 ERA is the best among Stanford’s starters, finally picked up his first win last Friday against Oregon. Quantrill (3-2) shined in the second game of the series as he gave up 1 run over 7 innings of work before handing the ball over to lefty John Hochstatter, who picked up the win. Stanford head coach Mark Marquess later called Quantrill’s performance the freshman’s “best outing.”
Viall, on the other hand, will look to rebound against the Beavers after his worst outing of the season last week, when he gave up 4 runs over 1.1 innings.
In the other dugout, Oregon State head coach Pat Casey will send out a formidable staff which features a Pac-12-leading 2.38 team ERA, starting with senior lefty Ben Wetzler on Friday. Wetzler holds a perfect 5-0 record and a 0.47 ERA. In the remaining games, the Beavers will likely send out sophomore righty Andrew Moore, who owns a 2.58 ERA and a 2-2 record, and junior Jace Fry, a lefty with a 5-1 record and a 1.81 ERA.
As the No. 6 team in the country, the Beavers also boast an impressive lineup. Junior outfielder Michael Conforto holds a Pac-12 leading .545 on-base percentage and a .396 average. In addition, senior infielder Kavin Keyes, who holds a .333 average, currently stands at 10th place on the OSU all-time hits list.
The Beavers come into the series having won their last five meetings against the Cardinal dating back to 2012. Stanford will be looking to prevent a sixth straight loss, which would tie its longest drought against the Beavers. The first pitch at Gross Stadium is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday’s game set to start at 1:35 p.m. and Sunday’s game slated for 1:05 p.m.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.